01.31.12_(Not so) Drunken Noodles

Ok so this recipe is nothing like Drunken Noodles, rather noodles I made drunk the other day. I'm so clever, I know. Phillip and I decided to take advantage of the unseasonably warm weather on Tuesday and go to a Happy Hour where we could sit outside and have a drink after work. By the time we got home I did not want to make some elaborate dish. I had found this recipe for Fiery Noodles that basically consisted of noodles, peppers, and a sauce made from chili paste. We thought this would be a good day to try them since it would be quick and require very little knife work after a couple of drinks.

As always we decided we wanted leftovers so we used an entire pound of pasta. While waiting for the water to boil, I sliced two bell peppers (we used a yellow and a red) and minced two cloves of garlic. Next I made the sauce, following the recipe I had found. I looked at the amount of sauce, looked at the pound of pasta boiling, and knew there was no way it was going to be enough. Our sauce was also not nearly as red as the pictures from the recipe post. I decided it was time to just improvise and see how it turned out. I ended up adding Sriracha and adjusted the amounts of all the other ingredients until I was satisfied with the amount and flavor of the sauce.

In the end I used:
  • 1/4 cup of soy sauce
  • 2 Tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • 2 tsp roasted red chili paste
  • 2 tsp Sriracha
  • 1/4 tsp of red chili flakes
  • 1/4 cup chopped peanuts (for garnish)
  • cilantro (for garnish)
The noodles were super tasty and we had a ton of leftovers (as expected). We served the noodles with veggie dumplings I had in the freezer. Obviously not a groundbreaking recipe but a tasty, quick and easy one to keep in your arsenal for an easy (drunk) weekday meal.

01.29.11_Homemade Spaghetti-O's

Hello again! Phil here with another yummy vegetarian dish for you all. Jonathan found this lovely Spaghetti-O's recipe from the blog Tracey's Culinary Adventures last week, and we knew this one would be a winner. I can't speak for Jonathan, but I am a huge Spaghetti-O's fan, which is why we decided I would take the initiative on this one.

If you recall from my last post, I am not the world's best cook, but with Jonathan across from me in new (large!) kitchen, I figured I could handle it. It's important to note that we made mini-sized version of the eggplant meatballs from a previous post as opposed to her chicken ones to make the meal fully vegetarian.

Mini "meatballs" ready to go into the oven.
After chopping an onion, a stalk of celery, and three small carrots, I sauteed them in a large pot. While they were sauteing, I (poorly) minced three cloves of garlic and added it in. I mixed in 2 1/2 cups of veggie stock and a 28-ounce can of diced tomatoes then simmered the mixture for 20 minutes.

Anybody can cook!
After the carrots softened, I used Jonathan's new immersion blender to make the soup. It took a few minutes of dealing with rogue carrots, but we could really see that creamy orange color coming out of the mixture. I added some salt and pepper and brought the soup back up to a boil.

I have no idea what I'm doing, clearly.
Once the soup mixture was at a boil, I put in two cups of ditalini pasta and let simmer for another 15 minutes. I used a little bit more pasta than she recommended, so we'd have enough for the next day's lunch. The mini meatballs came out at around the same time and looked perfect! Not bad for my first time working with eggplant.

I'm actually surprised with how much it tasted like Spaghetti-O's from the can, though this was much healthier! We both loved the meal and enjoyed it again the next day for lunch. We definitely recommend giving it a try if you're in the mood for a nostalgic meal - without all the sodium!

01.25.12_Kung Pao Potatoes

I was really excited when I found this recipe that took frozen french fries and added them to an Asian stir-fry. I love french fries. I love Asian food. Sounds perfect. The shopping list was super short for this recipe as well since I had almost all of the ingredients in the house except the fresh produce and the fries.

While the rice was cooking in the rice cooker (we used brown rice because it's what we had) we cooked the fries like you normally would in the oven. As the fries were cooking I did all the prep work. All I had to do was cut up a red onion, a red bell pepper, and mince some garlic and ginger. I also went ahead and made the sauce that consisted of water, soy sauce, vinegar, cornstarch (the recipe calls for cornflour), ketchup, chili sauce, and sugar. We left out the red chilies because I didn't have any and decided to add some extra chili flakes to the stir-fry to make up for it. Once the fries were cooked, I threw the garlic, ginger, onion, bell pepper, and chili flakes into a skillet with some oil. After a few minutes I added the the sauce and fries, brought to a boil and simmered for a few minutes.

We forgot to top the Kung Pao Potatoes with peanuts which I did not even realize until right now. I also just realized that the recipe called for sesame oil, which I did not use. Sad. We also served edamame on the side for some veggies. Perhaps the fact that we botched the recipe pretty badly is why we were both underwhelmed by the recipe. The sauce didn't have as much flavor as I hoped but it was fine (perhaps because I didn't have the red chilies and forgot to use sesame oil?). I also realized as I was making it that it was a starch on top of another starch. I think if I were to change the recipe a bit I would use tofu instead of potatoes to remove one of the starches, and I would change the ratio of the ingredients in the sauce so it was a bit more flavorful and less watery. At least the recipe was super easy!

01.22.12_Homemade Hummus and Tzatziki

A while back my grandma had called me from the grocery store. She was thinking about buying the mix to make falafel after having read it on our blog. I told her it was incredibly easy, and would be just like making latkes so she should definitely try it. She ended up buying the mix and a can of tahini paste. A month or so later, I saw her at a family function and she told me she had something for me. She pulled out the falafel mix and tahini paste and told me that she chickened out and wasn't going to make it so I could have it.

After Phillip and I moved, I wanted to have her over for dinner. Her and my Zayde apparently had one of their first dates right next door to our apartment so I thought it would be nice for her to see the area again and would give me a chance to make the falafel for her and show her how easy it is. Since she had given me the tahini, I also decided to make homemade hummus for the first time. After googling for recipes for a while, I found a recipe for a classic hummus that had great reviews.

I decided to double the recipe because Phillip and I love hummus and thought it would be nice to have some leftovers. I did one batch at a time and I'm glad we did because after making the first batch, using the modifications the author of the recipe recommended, the hummus came out pretty runny. I was able to make some changes when I added the second can of chickpeas and the final product came out great. We used:
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 2 cans garbanzo beans, 1/2 cup liquid reserved
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 4 tablespoons tahini
  • 2 teaspoon salt
I mixed all of the ingredients in my new full sized food processor I got for the holidays (very exciting I know) and then garnished the hummus with a few whole chickpeas, pine nuts I had on hand, a dusting of cumin and parsley, and then before serving drizzled the top with good olive oil (how Ina Garten of me). The hummus was super delicious and was a good texture. I would definitely make it again.

To go along with the falafel, I made the cucumber tomato salad I made from our first blog post ever and also wanted to make a real tzatziki sauce for dipping. I found a lot of recipes that were all a little different so ended up choosing the recipe with the highest ratings. The only changes I made was using white wine vinegar (I didn't have red at home), using half a cucumber (so I could use the other half in the salad) and I added a tablespoon of fresh lemon juice. I got to use another new toy and grated the cucumber on my mandolin! This is what the recipe looked like after my modifications:

  • 2 8oz Greek-style yogurts
  • 1/2 English cucumber, peeled, grated, then squeezed to remove excess water
  • 3 garlic cloves , mashed to a paste
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar 
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh dill
  • salt
The recipe made a TON of tzatziki. Luckily my mom loves the stuff and took an entire Tupperware container of leftovers home with her. The meal turned out great and I was able to make everything in advance so that when Grandma and Mom came over I didn't have to do anything. A great Sunday night.

01.13.12_Roasted Chickpea Fajitas

I don't know if all vegetarians eat a lot of chickpeas, or if it's just us. I feel like chickpeas have been the most repeated ingredient in our blog. Maybe it's just because we both like them. Who knows. Regardless, I found a recipe for Roasted Chickpea Fajitas and added to the list of things to try.

Super simple as always, all we had to do was mix together:

2 teaspoons chili powder
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons water
1 (15 oz.) can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed

Then we put the chickpeas into a 400° oven for 25-30 minutes, stirring once halfway through. While the chickpeas were roasting, I sauteed onion, garlic, and two bell peppers (we used orange and yellow) in some EVOO. After a couple of minutes I added in another mixture that consisted of the following:

1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon oregano
Salt and pepper, to taste
Juice of 1 large lime
1/3 cup chopped cilantro

After the chickpeas were done roasting, I added them to the veggie mixture, tossed everything together, and dinner was ready! We served the fajitas with veggie refried beans and also a boxed Mexican rice mixture. I topped my fajita was sour cream, cheese, avocado and salsa. The fajitas were super filling and I didn't miss the meat!

01.08.12_Slow Cooker Lentil Taco Salads

Happy New Year! This winter I am making a conscious effort to use my crock pot more. Every time I use it I love that I literally had to cut stuff up and then I come back 6 hours later to a warm, delicious meal. On Sunday we planned on painting our bedroom so I thought that would be a good time to throw something in the crock pot and not have to deal with it. I had found this recipe for Lentil Taco salads that you make in the slow cooker so I was excited to try it since I had never made lentils before.

The recipe called for:

1 red pepper, coarsely chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
1 cup brown lentils
½ cup brown rice
1 garlic clove
2 teaspoons chili powder
¼ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
4 cups vegetable broth

When I went shopping for the ingredients it was right after New Years and shelves were barren. The red peppers looked a hot mess so I grabbed one of the only orange peppers instead. Lentils were hard to come by as well. I found black lentils, instead of brown. I did a little research later of the difference between brown, green, and red lentils but I still don't really know the difference. Something to do with the texture after they are cooked. I assumed that after cooking for 6 hours they would all end up about the same. Luckily, the black lentils worked out just fine.

After prepping the pepper, onion, and garlic, I put all the ingredients into the crock pot, turned it on high, and left it there for 6 hours while we painted and did stuff around the apt. When we were ready for dinner we crunched up some tortilla chips, then topped the chips with shredded lettuce and then the lentil mixture. I added salsa, fresh diced tomato, avocado, cheese and sour cream to mine while Phillip just added cheese and avocado. It was really really good. Phillip kept going back for more which is always a good sign. There was enough for us to have leftovers today too!